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SystemEvents Class

Provides access to system event notifications. This class cannot be inherited.


Namespace:  Microsoft.Win32
Assembly:  System (in System.dll)

[PermissionSetAttribute(SecurityAction::LinkDemand, Name = L"FullTrust")]
[HostProtectionAttribute(SecurityAction::LinkDemand, MayLeakOnAbort = true)]
public ref class SystemEvents sealed

The SystemEvents type exposes the following members.

Public methodStatic memberCreateTimerCreates a new window timer associated with the system events window.
Public methodEquals(Object)Determines whether the specified Object is equal to the current Object. (Inherited from Object.)
Protected methodFinalizeAllows an object to try to free resources and perform other cleanup operations before it is reclaimed by garbage collection. (Inherited from Object.)
Public methodGetHashCodeServes as a hash function for a particular type. (Inherited from Object.)
Public methodGetTypeGets the Type of the current instance. (Inherited from Object.)
Public methodStatic memberInvokeOnEventsThreadInvokes the specified delegate using the thread that listens for system events.
Public methodStatic memberKillTimerTerminates the timer specified by the given id.
Protected methodMemberwiseCloneCreates a shallow copy of the current Object. (Inherited from Object.)
Public methodToStringReturns a string that represents the current object. (Inherited from Object.)

Public eventStatic memberDisplaySettingsChangedOccurs when the user changes the display settings.
Public eventStatic memberDisplaySettingsChangingOccurs when the display settings are changing.
Public eventStatic memberEventsThreadShutdownOccurs before the thread that listens for system events is terminated.
Public eventStatic memberInstalledFontsChangedOccurs when the user adds fonts to or removes fonts from the system.
Public eventStatic memberLowMemory Obsolete. Occurs when the system is running out of available RAM.
Public eventStatic memberPaletteChangedOccurs when the user switches to an application that uses a different palette.
Public eventStatic memberPowerModeChangedOccurs when the user suspends or resumes the system.
Public eventStatic memberSessionEndedOccurs when the user is logging off or shutting down the system.
Public eventStatic memberSessionEndingOccurs when the user is trying to log off or shut down the system.
Public eventStatic memberSessionSwitchOccurs when the currently logged-in user has changed.
Public eventStatic memberTimeChangedOccurs when the user changes the time on the system clock.
Public eventStatic memberTimerElapsedOccurs when a windows timer interval has expired.
Public eventStatic memberUserPreferenceChangedOccurs when a user preference has changed.
Public eventStatic memberUserPreferenceChangingOccurs when a user preference is changing.

The SystemEvents class provides the ability to respond to specific types of system events.

When a system event is raised, any delegates attached to the event are called using the thread that monitors for system events. Therefore, you should make any calls from your event handlers thread-safe. If you need to call a system event that is not exposed as a member of this class, you can use the InvokeOnEventsThread method.

Caution noteCaution

Do not perform time-consuming processing on the thread that raises a system event handler because it might prevent other applications from functioning.


Some system events might not be raised on Windows Vista. Be sure to verify that your application works as expected on Windows Vista.


The HostProtectionAttribute attribute applied to this type or member has the following Resources property value: MayLeakOnAbort. The HostProtectionAttribute does not affect desktop applications (which are typically started by double-clicking an icon, typing a command, or entering a URL in a browser). For more information, see the HostProtectionAttribute class or SQL Server Programming and Host Protection Attributes.

This section contains two examples. The first example shows how to use system events in an ordinary application, and the second example shows how to use system events in a Windows service.

Example 1

The following code example registers interest in some system events and then waits for any of those events to occur. The output shown occurs if the user changes the display resolution.

#using <System.dll>

using namespace System;
using namespace Microsoft::Win32;

// This method is called when a user preference changes.
void SystemEvents_UserPreferenceChanging(Object^ sender,
     UserPreferenceChangingEventArgs^ e)
     Console::WriteLine("The user preference is changing. Category={0}",

// This method is called when the palette changes.
void SystemEvents_PaletteChanged(Object^ sender, EventArgs^ e)
    Console::WriteLine("The palette changed.");

// This method is called when the display settings change.
void SystemEvents_DisplaySettingsChanged(Object^ sender,
    EventArgs^ e)
    Console::WriteLine("The display settings changed.");

int main()
    // Set the SystemEvents class to receive event notification
    // when a user preference changes, the palette changes, or
    // when display settings change.
    SystemEvents::UserPreferenceChanging += gcnew
    SystemEvents::PaletteChanged += gcnew
    SystemEvents::DisplaySettingsChanged += gcnew

    // For demonstration purposes, this application sits idle
    // waiting for events.
    Console::WriteLine("This application is waiting for system events.");
    Console::WriteLine("Press <Enter> to terminate this application.");

// This code produces the following output.
//  This app is waiting for system events.
//  Press <Enter> to terminate this application.
//  Display Settings changed.
//  User preference is changing. Category=General

Example 2

The following code example demonstrates a very simple Windows service that handles the TimeChanged and UserPreferenceChanged events. The example includes a service named SimpleService, a form named HiddenForm, and an installer. The form provides the message loop that is required by system events.


Services do not have message loops, unless they are allowed to interact with the desktop. If the message loop is not provided by a hidden form, as in this example, the service must be run under the local system account, and manual intervention is required to enable interaction with the desktop. That is, the administrator must manually check the Allow service to interact with desktop check box on the Log On tab of the service properties dialog box. In that case, a message loop is automatically provided. This option is available only when the service is run under the local system account. Interaction with the desktop cannot be enabled programmatically.

The service in this example starts a thread that runs an instance of HiddenForm. The events are hooked up and handled in the form. The events must be hooked up in the load event of the form, to make sure that the form is completely loaded first; otherwise the events will not be raised.


The example provides all the necessary code, including the form initialization code typically generated by Visual Studio designers. If you are developing your service in Visual Studio, you can omit the second partial class and use the Properties window to set the height and width of the hidden form to zero, the border style to FormBorderStyle::None, and the window state to FormWindowState::Minimized.

To run the example:

  1. Compile the code from the command line. The name that you use for the source file is not important.

  2. Install the service from the command line using the Installutil.exe (Installer Tool) utility. For example, InstallUtil example.exe if the source file name is example.cs or example.vb. You must be an administrator to install the service.

  3. Use the Services console to start the service.

  4. Change the system time, or change user preferences, such as mouse properties.

  5. View the messages in the Application category of Event Viewer.

  6. Use the Services console to stop the service.

  7. Uninstall the service from the command line by using the /u option. For example, InstallUtil /u example.exe.

No code example is currently available or this language may not be supported.

.NET Framework

Supported in: 4, 3.5, 3.0, 2.0, 1.1, 1.0

.NET Framework Client Profile

Supported in: 4, 3.5 SP1

Windows 7, Windows Vista SP1 or later, Windows XP SP3, Windows XP SP2 x64 Edition, Windows Server 2008 (Server Core not supported), Windows Server 2008 R2 (Server Core supported with SP1 or later), Windows Server 2003 SP2

The .NET Framework does not support all versions of every platform. For a list of the supported versions, see .NET Framework System Requirements.

Any public static (Shared in Visual Basic) members of this type are thread safe. Any instance members are not guaranteed to be thread safe.